To say there’s been a bit of a furore surrounding Greggs ploy to grab a bit of extra market share by offering vegan sausage rolls in their outlets is an understatement: Greggs: How its vegan sausage roll stormed social media. This was the offering that caused Piers Morgan to lose his s**t, prompting him to tweet: “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns.”
At the end of the day, this was a major company recognising that there are a growing number of vegans and deciding that it wanted a slice of that market. It was a business decision and nothing more – they weren’t doing it for the good of the planet or people’s health. The same applies to any other large company or corporation deciding to produce and sell vegan products – it’s about pumping up the bottom line and nothing else.
So when vegans get all misty eyed about a corporation such as Unilever getting into the vegan market – Unilever buys meat-free food company The Vegetarian Butcher – we feel that it’s time for a reality check. This is what Unilever are really like: Unilever in the McSpotlight. Screwing their workers, supporting repressive regimes, being less than environmentally friendly and testing their products on animals can’t be compensated for by flogging a few vegan products.
People become vegans for a range of reasons ranging from hoping it will make a difference to the environmental health of the planet through to personal health reasons. If you’re one of those vegans who are doing it to help the environment, we hope you’re joining the dots. It’s not just about what you have on your plate to eat, it’s about how it got there and who produced it. If your vegan meal has been brought to you by a major corporation, then sorry but your purchase and consumption of it is doing zilch to save the planet. If on the other hand it has come from a local, sustainable producer run on sound ethical lines, then you are doing something to help the planet. If it’s come from a community garden you’re involved in, that’s even better.
However, at the end of the day, the only guarantee that the food you consume will be ethically sourced and sustainable is by getting rid of the exploitative, environmentally destructive, dysfunctional capitalist system we’re forced to endure. Individual ethical consumer choices will make the merest of dents in the system at best. You may well feel good about your choices but the system will still be there screwing over people and the planet. If you’re into veganism in a bid to change the world, then it has to be political – there’s no other way of doing it: Putting the politics into veganism.